Filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial step in securing financial assistance for your education, and the form for the 2024-25 academic year is now available at www.studentaid.gov. Here are five reasons why you should file your FAFSA as soon as possible:
- Access to federal and state aid: Filing the FAFSA is the gateway to federal financial aid programs, including grants, work-study opportunities and low-interest loans (more on those below). The state of Illinois also uses the FAFSA to determine eligibility for its Monetary Award Program (MAP). Illinois students who are not eligible for federal financial aid may complete the Alternative Application at ISAC.org/alternativeapp.
- Eligibility for other scholarships and grants: Some of these types of aid, both from the government and private organizations, require proof of financial need. The FAFSA is a standardized way for institutions to assess your financial situation and determine your eligibility for need-based aid. Some merit-based scholarships and awards also require the submission of the FAFSA.
- Work-study opportunities: FAFSA eligibility can open doors to Federal Work Study (FWS), which provides on-campus part-time jobs for undergraduate students with financial need, allowing you to earn up to $2,000 to help pay education expenses.
- Low-interest federal loans: If you need to borrow money for your education, federal student loans obtained through the FAFSA typically have lower interest rates compared to private loans. They also come with various repayment options and protections. Read through our Financial Aid page for answers to your questions about loans, info for parents and more.
- Understand your financial situation: Completing the FAFSA provides a clear picture of your family's financial situation. This information can be valuable in creating a realistic budget for your college education. Even if you think you may not qualify for need-based aid, consider filling it out—each year, millions of students across the country miss out on billions of dollars for school.
One last tip: be sure you are always working with a legitimate loan servicing company—review these tips to detect scams on the official Federal Student Aid site. Remember, the FAFSA is an annual requirement, so you should submit it each year you plan to enroll. And of course, include school code 001666 for Concordia-Chicago!